In the third quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat outscored the Boston Celtics 39-14. It was the defining moment of a game the Celtics lost 118-107, and if the Celtics don’t turn things around it could go down as the defining moment of the series.
“[We] got out-toughed, out-physicaled (sic),” Udoka said when asked what happened during those 12 minutes. “They looked like they came out in the second half and wanted to up their physicality and aggression on both ends, and they did that. I don’t think we obviously responded well on either end of the floor. We had eight of our 16 turnovers in that quarter. Played in the crowd on offense, got sped up. And then defensively – offensive rebounds, getting muscled around in the post. Some poor fouls got them to the free throw line.”
The Celtics’ struggles in the third were most apparent on offense. It was seven minutes before the team hit its first field goal of the second half, during which time Miami went on an 18-2 run. There were a number of unforced errors moving the ball that allowed Miami easy transition buckets, with a handful coming sequentially and at the top of the key.
“It flipped very quickly, and we just lost our composure. We won three quarters other than that, but obviously that one’s going to stand out,” Udoka added. “We really had one poor quarter that hurt us, and it was strictly from a physicality standpoint. It wasn’t anything different that they did. They just came out and imposed their will.”
Winning the other three quarters – the Celtics were plus-14 in the first, second, and fourth combined – seemed to be a point of encouragement for Udoka as he looks to turn the team around.
“I wouldn’t say it’s anything tough to clean up, because we got back to it in the fourth quarter. We did it for three quarters.” Udoka noted when asked about taking away positives from the game. “It was more so the things we didn’t do…nothing that we can’t clean up. We’ve been doing it for the most part all season, especially the second half and the playoffs, and it was no different from Milwaukee or Brooklyn or the teams that really load up on those guys. It’s just we just got caught up in the physicality and trying to draw fouls instead of making the right read.”
The Celtics will try to put together a more complete game on Thursday, when Game 2 gets underway in Miami. That one has an 8:30 p.m. tip, with pregame coverage beginning at 8 on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network.